“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8
We tend to give one another what we believe they deserve.
As a child growing up if you were well behaved you’d receive the praise and appreciation of your parents and teachers as they felt you deserved. Some particularly good behaviors might even be rewarded by gifts or other tokens of approval. If you misbehaved you’d receive the scolding, criticism and punishment that they felt you deserved.
The older we become the more it seems that any gifts or tokens of love must be deserved, which is just another way of saying that they must be earned.
Grades in school are given according to achievement. Awards and trophies are presented to those that have performed better than their peers. The best jobs and the highest paying positions go to the best and most experienced workers.
I’m certain that I’m forgetting or taking for granted any number of things that might have been given to me over the years but I’ve been trying to think of something I’ve received either as a child or as an adult that I didn’t deserve and I can’t think of anything. I’ve worked to get what I’ve gotten. At times I’ve had to work very hard to earn the achievement and rewards I’ve attained, modest though most of them are. But it occurs to me that there’s one gift, which when it’s given is always given to the undeserving, that I’ve received many, many times. Forgiveness.
God’s much more generous in giving undeserved gifts than we are. Scripture says that he sends the blessings of the sun and rain upon the wicked and the righteous alike. When it comes to forgiveness we tend to extend it to the repentant who ask for it. God on the other hand doesn’t wait for us to be repentant or ask. He offers his forgiveness by searching out and hunting down the sinner and when he finally has them cornered he pleads with them to let him forgive them. God doesn’t wait for us to be deserving.
God wants us to become like he is. He wants us to be his hands and his feet as he carries the evidences of his love to the undeserving objects of his desire. He wants us to join him as he finds and chases down his lost and wandering children so that he can shower on them the cleansing flood of his measureless forgiveness. He wants us to love like he does.
The apostle John tells us, in our focus text, that if we know him we will love like he does. We’ll shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, help the helpless, and love the unloving with no thought for how deserving they are or how it might advantage us. If this isn’t the way our hearts beat then John says we don’t really know God.
Heaven’s door opens to those who know God. We’ve been given today so that we can know him better. Let’s practice loving unconditionally like Jesus does so that we can truly know him.